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Soul/Jazz Singer Jarrod Lawson Mines His Authentic Self on Sophomore Album ‘Be The Change, Featuring Legendary Percussionist Sammy Figueroa - out 10/30 on Dome Records; Jazziz Premieres Title Track
(Published: September 22, 2020)

For Immediate Release September 22, 2020

Soul/Jazz Singer Jarrod Lawson Mines His Authentic Self on Sophomore Album ‘Be The Change'

Jazziz Premieres Title Track

Diverse Collection of Original Music Featuring Legendary Percussionist Sammy Figueroa and Guest Appearance By Popular Alternative Soul Trio Moonchild

Musical Moments Subtly Evoke Billy Joel, Sting, Janet Jackson, Prince, Marvin Gaye and Others

Set for 10/30 Release on Dome Records

On his upcoming album ‘Be The Change', Portland-based Soul/Jazz singer/writer/pianist Jarrod Lawson delivers an 11-song collection of original music that mines his authentic self. Set for October 30th on Dome Records, ‘Be The Change' is a beautiful, restrained, dreamy mix of love songs, irreverence and social commentary, all delivered with the "blue eyed soul" about which The London Evening Standard praised, "it's not just Lawson's wide ranging tenor and ability to swing, scat and groove that has made him the biggest soul-jazz sensation in years. It's the way he's bringing spirituality back to a genre that had lost its depth."

JAZZIZ Exclusively premiered the title track:
https://www.jazziz.com/new-music-monday-jarrod-lawson-katchie-cartwright-saxsquatch-more/ By Matt Micucci, 9/21/20

Soul/jazz vocalist Jarrod Lawson unites with legendary percussionist Sammy Figueroa on his new album, Be The Change. Due out on October 30 via Dome Records, it presents eleven originals that aim to speak to the hearts of the people and reflect the contemporary social climate. The title track is inspired by Mahatama Gandhi's famous words that "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." "My intent with this lyric," explains Lawson, "is to offer a glimpse of a future where social and environmental irresponsibility dissolves to make way for accountability and foresight. A world where the concerns of future generations become the concerns of this and every generation."

For Lawson, the project, five years in the making, has been cathartic - he comments, "This album is really about my personal journey of transformation. It's about getting back to my truest and most authentic self...I've spent my entire touring career up until now trying to be something that wasn't really me, something that I thought would most appeal to my audience. This was a false and fruitless endeavor. So, more than anything, this album is a story of coming home, of being comfortable in my own skin, ready to bring in the next chapter of my life from a place of inner peace and resolve."

Although Stevie Wonder/Al Jarreau references have warmly followed Lawson throughout his career, astute listeners may pick up some subtle nods to other contemporary artists on the new album. For example, on ‘I'll Be Your Radio', there's a Janet Jackson 'That's the Way Love Goes' vibe...on ‘Battlefield', the opening seconds may evoke Billy Joel's ‘River of Dreams'...on ‘Universal Chord', Lawson seems to be channeling multi-faceted artist Terence Trent D'Arby, 'Soul Symphony' conjures Prince, ‘Embrace What We Are' suggests a reverence for Marvin Gaye, and the vocal phrasing on ‘How Long' is reminiscent of Sting.

Taken together, these unexpected treats for the listener (whether intentional or not,) root Lawson's songs in a broader musical conversation that may pique the interest of new and long-time fans alike.

Though some have described Lawson as a ‘soul artist masquerading as a jazz artist', and others as ‘a jazz artist masquerading as a soul artist', when it comes down to the songs themselves, they are reflections of Jarrod's respect for his musical peers (including Grammy-nominated percussionist Sammy Figueroa and alternative soul trio Moonchild,) his connection with his father (see below re ‘Universal Chord',) the grounding influence of his new partner (in ‘Evalee',) and of course his views of the complicated world we're all living in. He comments, "The subject matter across the album is quite diverse. There are sincere messages and moments of urgency tempered by inoffensive, lighthearted offerings which bring levity and balance to the album. A handful of love songs sprinkled throughout will be a pleasant surprise to those who have longed for more of that subject matter in my work. The album also includes a spattering of thought-provoking compositions aimed at bringing to light many of the social and political issues that we face currently with regard to race relations and leadership accountability."

Here's a video of a live acoustic performance of the album's title track, featuring the great Sammy Figueroa. The single will be released on September 25th: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lLhTNr_3Ug&feature=youtu.be

Lawson provides additional album commentary:
"The title track, "Be The Change", was composed in 2017 upon meeting a man who would change my life forever. That man is the legendary percussionist, Sammy Figueroa, whose storied career spans several decades of collaborations with artists like Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Hall & Oates, David Bowie, and Chaka Khan. Sammy had been trying to contact me for a couple of years following the release of my debut album in 2014. He eventually got my email address from a mutual contact and reached out. He exclaimed that he wanted to make an album together, to which I responded most positively and enthusiastically! I was in a period of deep personal growth at that time, and the inspiring words of Mahatma Gandhi "You must be the change you wish to see in the world" were stirring around in my mind. This is a timeless message that will always have relevance. It occurred to me that this could be the core concept and beginnings to a very powerful song. The lyrics came quickly and effortlessly. I knew I wanted to say something that would resonate with people from all walks of life - to deliver a hopeful message that would rally the people behind the idea of holding ourselves accountable, that we might hand over to our children a better, more responsible, tolerant and compassionate world than we were given.

Much like my debut album, this next installment features a collection of songs which spans across several decades of my life. "Universal Chord", the oldest song on the record, was written at least 15 years ago or more and somehow never made it onto a record before. It was inspired by something my father said to me one day. He said he figured that every revolving planet or celestial body out there in the universe must be emitting a frequency, and if that's true, then the universe must be cooperating to create some kind of massive chord. I never forgot that conversation and the concept of a "universal chord" indelibly stuck with me. I held on to my original compositional idea for many many years, never feeling that it was quite there. More recently, however, I revisited it with a new perspective, updating the song with fresh chord changes and lyrical components which really transformed it into a far better composition than it originally was.

In contrast to that, "Evalee", the most recent addition to the collection, which tells of a pure and innocent declaration of affection, was composed in 2019 upon meeting my current partner. The lyric speaks of our first ever encounter when I asked her to dance with me, long before we had officially paired up. This relationship has been an incredibly important part of my recent metamorphosis. To have a partner at my side who truly makes me feel valued, safe and understood has given me the confidence to step out of the facade I had built around me and reboot back to my truest self. She has been a beacon of light for me when I was wandering aimlessly through the dark."

Regarding Moonchild's involvement on the track "I'll Be Your Radio":
"I met Moonchild in 2017 just following a concert they'd performed at Portland's Soul'd Out Festival. As it turned out, I had been hired to be the entertainment at their afterparty, at which point we made our first acquaintance. About a year later, while in Los Angeles visiting my sister, plans were made for an impromptu writing session with two other very talented, L.A. based artists, Raquel Rodriguez and Sam Brawner. Coincidentally, they had invited one of their favorite keyboard players/producers, Andris Mattson (of Moonchild), to be a part of the session, which made for a ludicrous alchemy of creative forces. I was already a massive fan of Moonchild at this point, so I was elated that Andris would be joining us. Later that evening, I accompanied Raquel and Sam to a live show of theirs, at which time the inimitable Amber Navran made an appearance and so the opportunity arose for she and I to become better acquainted as well. She and I actually sat in with the band and sang Cruisin' as a duet. What a dream for me. Afterward, Amber and I sat and talked for a while, during which time I proposed a collaboration. She agreed enthusiastically. Sometime later, I realized that I had already written the perfect song to include them in, titled "I'll Be Your Radio". I sent them the stems to the song and they actually recorded their parts from their hotel rooms while on tour! In addition to the presence of Amber's incomparable vocals, the three core members recorded flute (Amber), flugelhorn (Andris), and clarinet (Max). The incorporation of these talented musicians rounded out the recording in such a beautiful and harmonious way. I can't even imagine it without them now."

The first single, "Embrace What We Are", is one of only a few tracks on the album that carry a strong sociopolitical message:
"Inspired by the long and heartbreaking lineage of police brutality in the US, this stirring song, intended as a hopeful message of peace and unity, reflects on such a story. Originally inspired by the brutal murder of Eric Garner in 2014 during which several policeman held him face down in a choke hold while Eric repeatedly declared "I can't breathe", the song draws correlation to the recent murder of George Floyd, an event which has ignited a firestorm of protests across the globe. The chorus of the song offers a peaceful appeal to our armed "public servants", saying to them, "Soften your heart. Lower your guard. Let your fears be vanquished by this simple truth - that you're my sister, you're my brother, let's Embrace What We Are and stop killing each other." The hope is to bring greater awareness to the issue of police brutality and use of excessive force toward unarmed men and women, and more specifically, men and women of color. Proceeds from the sales of this single will be donated to COLOROFCHANGE.ORG, an organization whose goal is to empower and amplify black voices and their allies, make government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans, and bring about positive political and social change for everyone."

Listen to "Embrace What We Are": https://open.spotify.com/album/5fnCxY5X1ioP9nsB2ZV2fa?highlight=spotify:track:6kwPxqFIl7g1i6jNVagEWK

Jarrod Lawson - Bio
Formerly held close as one of the Northwest's best-kept musical secrets, Jarrod Lawson has exploded as an international sensation, topping charts, garnering awards, performing at prestigious venues and spawning fresh notability for Portland's burgeoning soul music scene. Ever since Lawson released his eponymous debut album in 2014, the smokey voiced singer-songwriter and virtuosic pianist has been sending positive ripples around the globe with his powerful message music. He has completed six successful international tours with prestigious highlights extending from Rotterdam's North Sea Jazz and the UK's Love Supreme festivals to Java Jazz festival in Indonesia, with performances in Beijing, Melbourne and at Tokyo's Billboard Live. Lawson's debut album was followed by a limited edition vinyl EP "Jarrod Lawson At The BBC", recorded at London's historic BBC Maida Vale studios - broadcast on the Gilles Peterson Worldwide Show. Lawson won Soul Artist Of The Year at the Jazz FM Awards and has been dubbed "the hottest talent to hit soul music in at least ten years" by Echoes magazine. In the US he has performed on the Capital Jazz Cruise and has appeared in leading jazz clubs across the country from New York to Seattle. His second album "Be The Change" is released in October 2020 and will be followed by touring in the US and Europe in the spring of 2021.


Dome Records UK: http://www.domerecords.co.uk

More Information: http://https://www.jarrodlawson.com

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